Vail Valley preps: Huskies boys basketball wins league opener
EDWARDS – How’s that for openers?
Battle Mountain boys basketball started league play with an opening salvo of 3-pointers against Delta Thursday night. Those five treys in the first 8:16 of the game – four by Chris Duran and another from Joe LyBarger – opened up the inside for the Huskies center Cody Hervert (23 points) as Battle Mountain jumped on the visiting Panthers, 64-53, in its league opener.
“It was just the flow of the game,” Duran said. “I did what Coach told me to do and I executed.”
“That was our game plan coming in,” Huskies coach Tom Padilla said. “We’ve been struggling offensively, especially on the outside shots, so I talked to Chris and we worked on it. We went to our sideline break. It was just what we ran last year with Parker (Lathrop). I gave him the green light.”
And that helped the Huskies win their league opener for the first time since 2002. For the trivia buffs in the audience, even in 2005 (Eagle Valley) and 2006 (Glenwood Springs), years the Huskies had state-playoff teams, they didn’t win their Slope lid-lifter.
“Winning the first conference game is huge,” Padilla said. “You lose that first one and you have to crawl out.”
The coach speaks from experience. Last year, Battle Mountain lost its opener to Steamboat Springs and was 1-5 in the Slope before rallying for a 7-7 league mark and a state berth. Doubtless, Padilla and the Huskies would like to avoid such drama in 2011.
Padilla was pleasantly surprised by his team’s energy, coming off the holiday break. Of course, a big jolt of 3s never hurts the cause. Duran struck first, followed by LyBarger with 4:43 left in the first. Duran hit two more from downtown before the Huskies got their first 2-point field goal from Hervert for a 14-11 first quarter lead.
Duran started the second with another 3, and the Panthers rallied, closing the Huskies lead to 25-23 at the half but the damage was done.
“I think they were packing the paint in the first half,” Hervert said. “Chris started knocking them down, so they had to respect that.”
While the Huskies started going to Hervert underneath midway through the second quarter, the senior went off in the third. The Huskies outscored Delta, 25-12, in that span with Hervert accounting for 13 of those points.
With Delta’s 2-3 zone loosened, Eric Gurule found lanes for slashing drives to the hoop and Irving Ruacho capped the quarter with a trey. Another unsung hero in Tuesday’s game was LyBarger, who ended the night with eight steals. Just as before the break, the sophomore continues to disrupt the play of opposing offenses.
Battle Mountain upped its record to 6-3 with the win and heads to Summit County Tuesday for a nonconference tilt. The Tigers are headed up by Phil Tronsrue, who preceded Padilla as the coach at Battle Mountain.
“It’s going to be fun,” Padilla said. “I told the kids not to buy into the coaching stuff. It’s about the kids. For me, I got along with Phil really well. I wish him well, but we’ve got to win that one.”
Girls bow to Panthers
Battle Mountain girls basketball welcomed back senior Kenia Olivas back into the lineup, but her team-high 11 points weren’t enough in a 77-33 loss to the Panthers.
Olivas had missed most of the preseason with a concussion.
“She just adds a lot of confidence for our other players,” Huskies coach Andrew Schmid said. “They don’t feel they have to do as much because Kenia’s on the court, taking care of the ball, getting up the court and initiating our offense. She’ll get back into it eventually.”
Delta didn’t let Battle Mountain get going from the start. The Huskies took a 2-0 lead on free throws from Shauna Roberts and the Panthers then scored 29 of the game’s next 30 points.
Battle Mountain hosts Conifer in nonconference action Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.